Construction minister pledges to cut bureaucracy and unite departments

New construction minister Alun Michael this week pledged to help the industry to lobby more effectively by uniting the numerous Whitehall departments with an interest in the construction industry.

In his first interview as minister in charge of construction, Michael responded to calls from Building’s readers prior to the general election and promised that the sector would have a greater voice across Whitehall.

He said: “I’m aware of the issue and want to work with all my ministerial colleagues, particularly those in the ODPM, to ensure that the industry is represented.”

He added that the government’s agenda was to reduce bureaucracy. He said he looked forward to working with the industry to achieve this, but that it was “too early in the job to go into specifics”.

Michael said he had already met the Strategic Forum on Wednesday and had consulted its chairman Peter Rogers to gain a greater insight into the needs of the industry.

He fended off criticism that he would not be able to dedicate enough time to construction because of his large portfolio, which includes 48 industrial sectors in addition to construction.

He said: “The fact that I have a large brief can only be a good thing for the industry. For example I also have responsibility for Regional Development Agencies as far as the DTI is concerned, so I believe it all fits well.”

I want to work with all my ministerial colleagues to ensure that the industry is represented

Alun Michael

Michael said that he was keen to learn about and address the needs of the industry and was particularly keen to represent small and medium-sized firms.

He said: “Construction has a lot of successful major players. But people tend to judge the image of construction on the small, medium and micro firms. I intend to look at this issue.”

Michael said he gained experience of construction and regeneration from his time dealing with the regeneration of Cardiff city centre and the £220m Cardiff Bay Barrage project, for which he lobbied for eight years in parliament.

He added that he also had a background in economic development and regeneration.

The industry has reacted warmly to Michael’s appointment, as it is a promotion in terms of industry representation – Michael is a minister of state whereas his predecessor, Nigel Griffiths was a junior minister.

In a separate development Adrian Chamberlain, Bovis Lend Lease’s chief executive, is expected to be named as the deputy chairman of the Strategic Forum, with a view to taking over from Rogers.